Scootie Allan versus Tirricks

A Scooty Allan is the Arctic Skua (Stercorarius skua).  They are bullies and attack other birds to get their food.

A Tirrick is an Arctic Tern (Stercorarius parasiticus).  They are not without their faults and during nesting time will dive bomb with intent to peck your head.

So, I went to beach to watch them arguing together.

The Scooty Allans were trying to steal the sand-eels off the Tirricks who were happily fishing in the afternoon sun.




This is a Scooty Allan.  They have a wingspan from between 107–125 cm and they are very nifty fliers.  They may look like a Lancaster Bomber but their flight is direct and powerful.


The Tirricks are much smaller and are little zippy fighter planes – the Spitfire of the bird world.



Their favourite food is sand-eels and the Scooty Allans like to wait until the Tirricks have caught one.  They then fly in and chase the little seabirds until they drop them.

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To catch the sand-eels, the tirricks dive-bomb the water, vanish for a second and then fly out triumphantly with their catch.

If you look careful at these photos, you can see the tiny sand-eels in the tirricks mouths as they emerge from the water.

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The Scooty Allans depends on the other fish-catching birds for its food.  It will harass the Tirrick until it drops the food – a very spectacular air battle to watch.


So I sat in the late afternoon sun and watched them perform their aerobatics listening to the screams of rage from the indignant Tirricks and the blue clear waves gently roll onto the beach.

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